Tuesday, February 21, 2012

School Board Contemplates Dress Code ... For Teachers

The Peoria (AZ) Unified School District board is working on a dress code for teachers. It would specify appropriate footwear and even address issues such as the square inches of skin visible on the torso. Existing policy in the district regarding teachers' attire specifies only that it be professional.

This amusing incident is emblematic of the general trend to de-professionalize teaching. Anything that can lower the level of respect accorded to public school teachers can lead eventually to lower pay, less autonomy, and more political regulation of the profession. De-skill, de-professionalize, and depreciate.

That such policies have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the ultimate objectives of schooling is clear from a simple thought experiment: Imagine attempting to impose a dress code on teachers of Grade 13, i.e., university professors teaching the Freshman year of college. That such a course of action is inconceivable reveals the fact that a dress code for K-12 teachers is nothing more than an arbitrary act of disciplining a weak profession on its way to becoming a skilled trade, and one compensated as such.

Gene V Glass
University of Colorado Boulder
Arizona State University

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